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How I Became Head Of Marketing

7th March 2024

The Post: Head of Marketing, Hastings Hotels

The Post Holder: Matt McRoberts

A university placement helped Matt McRoberts realise his desire to pursue marketing as a career.

Give a brief outline of your career to date.

I spent the first two years of my career in the marketing department at the then Castlereagh Borough Council, before spending another two years at MCS Group which is a specialist recruitment agency as a Marketing Executive. I then made the move to Wilsons Auctions, where I was a Digital Marketing Executive based at their Head Office in Mallusk. I joined Hastings Hotels as Digital Marketing Executive and over the past five years I held the role of Digital Marketing Manager before being promoted to Head of Marketing earlier this year.

What was your favourite subject at school?

I wasn’t very academic or one for getting my head down into the books, so I would say it was PE as I’m a sportaholic, or IT which came a bit more naturally to me at the time.

Did you go on to further/higher education, if so what did you study and where?

After school I studied Business Studies at Ulster University and graduated with a 2:1 before completing a Level 7 Post Graduate Certificate also at Ulster University.

How did you get into your area of work?

As part of my degree, I had a placement where I spent a year in the marketing department of Castlereagh Borough Council. I was then asked to stay on part-time during my final year of university. It was during this time that I realised my love of marketing and desire to pursue it as a career.

Were there any particular essential qualifications or experience needed?

Starting out in junior marketing roles, the only qualification I required was a relevant degree.

Are there alternative routes into the job?

There are always different ways and means to get hired. While some businesses ask for a degree, others  also consider someone who has been in further education and completed a relevant course. Of course, having work experience in your chosen field is always an advantage.

What are the main personal skills your job requires?

Organisation is key. I lead the marketing activity for the six Hastings Hotels and at any one time we could have a variety of different campaigns and different activities for each hotel, so it is vital that I am on top of everything at all times.

As a head of department, people skills also plays a big part of my day-to-day activity. Not just managing and overseeing my team within the Marketing department but working and communicating with other staff and the Senior Management team, as well as local partners, boards and suppliers, to ensure a consistent approach.

What does a typical day entail?

I start the morning by going through my emails. From here I’ll action the ones I can and add any other tasks to my to-do list. I’ll then meet with the marketing team to discuss their workload and priorities for the day and any assistance they might need.

After that it’s onto my to-do list. I am responsible for developing and implementing the marketing and communications strategy for Hastings Hotels. I oversee all areas of the marketing department – this includes digital marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, print activity, PR and communications – so I could be planning for the launch of a campaign, reviewing creative concepts, analysing the results of a recent campaign or budget planning. 

As part of my role, I also work closely with the group’s senior management team, six general managers and the external marketing and communications agencies we work with across the various markets. On any one day I could be in a number of meetings to discuss ongoing activity requirements. 

What are the best and most challenging aspects of the job?

As head of marketing for six hotels it is a varied and busy role, with each hotel having its own character and customer base. The marketing activity needs to reflect this so the challenge can be ensuring all activity is carefully planned and executed with no detail overlooked. The best thing about the job is seeing that something is done well and achieving what it set out to do.

Why is what you do important?

I believe that without marketing, companies wouldn’t achieve their aims and objectives – whether that is to drive profit and growth, brand awareness, create and retain customers or enhance engagement. If you take marketing away you’re reliant solely on reputation and individual experiences which can only get you so far.

What advice would you give anyone looking to follow a similar career path?

It might sound cliché but put in the hard work. I don’t believe I got to where I am today based only on talent, but instead through my years of working hard, particularly at the start of my career.

What is the one piece of advice you would give to yourself on your first day?

Believe in yourself and your ability.

Describe your ideal day off.

When I’m not working in the office, I’m working my second job at home – being a dad to my two daughters, Lottie and Fiadh. My ideal day off is a day with them and my wife Rachel. We’d have a leisurely breakfast and a road trip to the North Coast to relive my childhood with trips to Curry’s Fun Park (Barry’s Amusements to us older generation), a walk around the beaches and then a chippy tea in the car.

And finally, what’s the key to any successful job search?

A good CV is the difference to a normal application and an exceptional one. Make sure it’s updated and give as much detail as you can across systems, technologies and experiences you’ve had throughout your career.

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